U.S. auto sales this May are expected to be flat if we compare them with 2016 auto sales for the same month, but considering all the signs of stagnation isn’t that a good thing? Automakers in the U.S. market will report May sales on Thursday, June 1. The long Memorial Day weekend and sales promotions traditionally give May sales a boost.
U.S. auto sales were down a disappointing 4.7 percent in April, compared with April 2016. Year to date, auto sales were down 2.4 percent after four months. It’s well documented by now that the slowdown in sales is hitting passenger cars, while trucks are more popular than ever. Trucks include pickups, SUVs, minivans and so-called crossovers. Year to date after four months, passenger car sales were down 11.4 percent, while trucks were up 4.3 percent.
Crossovers are truck-like in appearance in terms of styling, a raised seating position and cargo room, but they’re built like cars, as a “unibody” all in one piece. Crossovers offer a more car-like ride and handling and better gas mileage. The traditional way of building a truck is to mount a body on a separate, ladder-like frame. That's sturdier but typically heavier, which sacrifices fuel economy.
Outside of Detroit, SUV-vs.-crossover is kind of an artificial distinction, considering some of the best-known, high-volume truck models that used to be body-on-frame, like the Ford Explorer, are now actually crossovers. More importantly, consumers don’t seem to make the distinction, using the terms SUV and crossover interchangeably.